Basic Hearing Test
Cranial Nerves 7
Special Senses Assignment Rubric
Special Senses Guided Notes
Special Senses PP
Special Senses Quiz
Special Senses Review Project
Exploring Special Senses
This lesson is all about learning what the special senses of the body are and how they work. Students will use this lesson to contribute to and enhance their understanding of the nervous system and how it functions by participating in tests of their visual field, eye muscles, smell, taste, and hearing. Finally, students will review their understanding through a creative review project that uses their own unique experience of their special senses. Students will complete a quiz to also demonstrate their understanding of what has been taught.
Image attribution: Senses Garden in Holon, Avishai Teicher via the PikiWiki - Israel free image collection project, licensed under Creative Commons Attribution 2.5 Generic license.
This lesson is about students applying their newfound understanding of how the special senses (i.e. vision, hearing, taste, touch, and smell) work by sharing the experience of their senses in an area of the school that they enjoy. Students will be describing their experience through a combination of photography (visual) and voice recordings (describing taste, smell, hearing, touch).
This lesson will take anywhere from two to three days for students to complete and submit through an online learning platform. (I used Canvas to get this project completed.)
This lesson will be completed virtually after students have learned the basics of the special senses and in preparation for an assessment of their knowledge of how the anatomy of the eye and ear work.
Background for Teachers
This lesson plan and review assignment will fit into any anatomy/physiology curriculum with the nervous system/special senses unit. You can pair it pretty easily with any PowerPoints or resources from your own curriculum. Students will need to have the foundational knowledge of the nervous system and be introduced to how the special senses work, especially the eyes and ears. There are two additional resources of a PowerPoint and guided notes about the special senses, specifically looking at the anatomy of vision and hearing, that that have been attached to this lesson plan under the planning/instruction section.
These are the standards used in my current curriculum:
USBE Strands & Standards for Medical Anatomy & Physiology (https://www.schools.utah.gov/file/a961e241-af49-4701-8860-e0d7e2e5e1a9)
Strand 7.15 & 7.16 of the Nervous System & Special Senses
This resource/lesson plan/activity can help students explore and implement what has been taught about the special senses.
Step 1 - Goals and Outcomes
Strand 7- Students will describe the structures and functions of the nervous system and special senses.
Standard 7.15- Students will describe the principle anatomical structures of the eye, including all accessory structures.
Standard 7.16- Students will describe the principle anatomical structures of the ear, including all accessory structures.
- By the end of this lesson and activity, students will have shared their understanding of how the special senses work and described their own unique experiences with their own special senses.
- Students will also have a more personalized understanding of special sense that they will be able to use in preparation for their final nervous system assessment.
- Students will be graded on the following aspects of their project:
- Use of photography
- Use of audio description
- Understanding of special senses
- Sharing of Unique experience
- Full points will be awarded for those students who provide an accurate depiction of the space, their explanation of how their special senses are working in that space, and sharing their unique experience of that space.
Step 2 - Planning Instruction
Printed or electronic copies of guided notes
Penlights or student phone flashlight
Pencils- for testing of the visual field, eye muscles, etc, to conduct a basic eye exam.
Audio output (speakers) to conduct an auditory exam
Student Background Knowledge Day 1
Students will need to have been taught the basics of the nervous system before covering content for the special senses. Students also need to have the basics of the special senses to be able to complete this assignment. This can easily be covered by using the attached PowerPoints that cover the anatomy of the eye and the ear and introduce the cranial nerves that include special senses. High school students in Utah are required to understand these concepts in their nervous system unit as per the Strands & Standards.
This activity should not be implemented as an introductory activity for the special senses. They need to understand how the special senses interact within the nervous system to convert external stimuli in the form of auditory, olfactory, gustatory, visual, and tactile input into electrical signals that are then processed within the cerebrum of the brain.
A Q&A review may be a great way to remind students of the main functions of the nervous system and how it helps our bodies navigate the many stimuli in our surrounding external and internal environments. Pose a few of the following questions for your students to write down their thoughts, discuss as a small group, and then address as a larger group.
Questions: How does the nervous system process sensory input from the external environment? How do we respond to external or internal sensory input? What are the major pathways called that bring in information, help us process it, and then send our responses through? What are our senses? What are the main structures of the central and peripheral nervous system? What are special senses?
Instruction on the Special Senses Day 1
Now that you have an understanding of where students' background knowledge is, you can instruct them on the special senses. Make sure students have electronic or hard copies of the guided notes for this unit. The document is large because of diagrams, but students will benefit from labeling the diagrams along with writing down any thoughts about what they are learning.
Using the Cranial Nerves PowerPoints attached, show students the cranial nerves that are responsible for housing most of the special senses (vision, taste, smell, touch, hearing). Remind them that touch is housed in the periphery of our bodies but is still a special sense. Q&A moment, ask students how the body has differentiated the structures that house our special senses from the rest of the nervous system. (i.e. attached them to the brainstem, given them specific processing centers within the cerebrum, given then specific structures to receive incoming stimulation.) After checking for student understanding and answering any more questions you can move on to the specific structures of vision and hearing.
Now is the time to dive into the special senses PowerPoint attached to this lesson. The PowerPoint does have 75 slides and does include conditions of the special senses. The diseases and disorders of the special senses can be saved for another lesson. Focus your lectures and activities on looking at the structures and functions of the eyes and ears. Be sure to have students either write or type notes within the study guide attached to this lesson.
Instruct students on the structure of the eyes, including the external structures of the eyelids, layers of the eyes, tear glands, and internal structures like the iris, pupil, ciliary body, smooth muscle of the iris, anterior and posterior chambers, retina, cornea, lens, and vitreous/aqueous humor, fovea, rods, and cones. Don't forget to include the optic nerve and how it relays signals back to the visual cortex! Make sure you pause between these structures to allow for students to ask clarifying questions. Give students five minutes to draw and label their own diagram of the eye.
Activity: Watch the youtube video link titled basic vision test attached below with your students. Pause and have students follow the examples given by the movie with the students at their table, or near their desks. Have students share their thoughts on the experience as they were both tested and administered the test.
Instruct students on the structures of the ear. Include the PowerPoint and make sure to cover the outer, middle, and inner ear structures and how they connect to the nervous system via the vestibulocochlear nerve. Allow time for students to label their own guided notes diagrams and ask clarifying questions.
Activity: Have the whole class participate in this activity. Make sure that any and all students that may become distressed or triggered by high-pitched sounds step out of the room when needed. Using the youtube link attached to this lesson plan, turn on the auditory test. Have students stand in their seats and stay standing until they can no longer hear the recorded pitches. It is a great way to see the variations in students' hearing.
Have students write down their thoughts on the two tests given for their special senses and reflect on how it has affected their own special senses structures. Have each student share what they learned with at least two other students in the classroom.
Review Project Day 2-3
Give students time in class and outside of class to complete this project. I would plan on having one class period dedicated to introducing the project, explaining the requirements and going over the rubric, and then giving students the time to roam around the school, pick their spot, and take a photo of their desired place. Then students can work on their audio description of the area on their own time outside of class or during lab time.
Activity: Beforehand create your own unique photograph and audio clip to share with the class of a specific area in the school that you enjoy and describe the experience with your special senses and anatomical/physiological understanding of the special senses. I have an exemplar attached to the student instructions section of this lesson plan, as well as a youtube link for a clothing ad that somewhat captures the audiovisual nature of this activity.
Activity Instructions: Students will use their special senses to describe an area of the school that they enjoy being in. Using approved digital tools, students will capture an image of the space within the school and then record an audio description of their experience. Students will need to include brief anatomical/physiological descriptions of how their special senses work within their audio description to demonstrate their understanding of what has been taught about the nervous system and special senses. Students can pair their audio descriptions with their photographs through social media apps or provide a link to their descriptions in their Canvas submissions. Students will need to upload their photographs through our Canvas class as well.
Review Quiz: There is a review quiz attached to this lesson plan that is 39 multiple choice questions long. Students will take this quiz to assess their understanding of the special senses unit. This quiz was obtained by Quizzizz, a free quiz resource for high school teachers. You can vary the number of questions to fit how much time you have given yourself for this unit. This can be a review quiz before a larger nervous system test is given, or it can be the unit summative assessment.
Strategies for Diverse Learners
To help meet the needs of diverse learners within your classroom this assignment can be tailored to fit their understanding of this concept. Students can use a range of tools like videos, pictures, audio clips to describe the experience of their special senses. Students can work together to complete this assignment but will need to submit their own unique photograph and audio description to complete the assignment. Audio recordings and photographs can be made with mobile devices that are available or can be created with school-issued laptops or other devices.
Step 3 - Instruction
As the instructor reviews PowerPoints with the class, students will need to fill out the guided notes. This will ensure that students are understanding what is being taught about the special senses, and help to prepare students to complete the review project and review quiz. Students will also turn in completed guided notes for credit.
Students will use their special senses to describe an area of the school that they enjoy being in. Using approved digital tools, students will capture an image of the space within the school and then record an audio description of their experience. Students will need to include brief anatomical/physiological descriptions of how their special senses work within their audio description to demonstrate their understanding of what has been taught about the nervous system and special senses. Students can pair their audio descriptions with their photographs through social media apps or provide a link to their descriptions in their Canvas submissions. Students will need to upload their photographs through our Canvas class as well.
Make sure you are filling out the guided notes and reviewing covered material through this unit to prepare for the special senses quiz.
Step 4 - Assessments
Students can use the following rubric to help guide their completion of this project. Students will then receive a grade for their project according to the following criteria: use of digital photography, audio description, understanding of special senses, sharing of student's unique experience, and proper citation and attribution from any open sources *resources.
*Students will need to attribute any open sourced music, sound effects, images, or quotes that are not originally their own. Credit must be assigned/given to receive full points for this assignment. Any students caught plagiarizing will receive no credit for this assignment.